Jun 24, 2009

Flatbreads with Halloumi, Tomatoes and Mint

We were a little late getting our tomatoes into the ground this spring and so are just now being treated to a bounty of orange, red and green fruits. We've been eating them in everything while they last. It's really heating up out there — 106 degrees yesterday — so our tomato days are numbered since they probably won't keep flowering in this heat. While we can, we're greedily eating them like candy by the handful and in any other way we can think of. This is one of my favorite and one of the easiest ways to enjoy them, especially those sweet little Sun Golds and Sweet 100s.

Using your favorite flatbread — I usually use pitas — you can either grill or toast this little Mediterranean pizza for a perfect snack, appetizer or light summer meal. I've been making this for years, after seeing it on an episode of Nigella Lawson's cooking show. It was perfection from the first taste and I've been making it this way ever since. That same episode introduced me to halloumi cheese. Halloumi is firm, mild, sheep's milk cheese made in Cyprus. The fun thing about it is that you can grill it and it's high melting point keeps it from oozing all over the place. It is a bit salty though, so I sometimes soak it in water for a few minutes before using and that takes it right out.

You can find halloumi at most cheese counters. In Austin, I usually buy it frozen from our Middle Eastern market, Phoenicia. It's about half the price there of Central Market or Whole Foods. I buy several at a time and keep them in the freezer. They thaw in minutes. I also get fresh pitas when I'm at Phoenicia. Like fresh tortillas, they are so much richer in flavor when freshly baked.

I have a big mint plant out in the herb garden and I use it all the time. But this little pizza uses dried mint and somehow here it works magic when roasted with the tomatoes. The softer flavor of the dried mint goes all sweet when heated and really compliments the cherry tomatoes.

This is one of those things you make on the fly and don't really need measurements for. Each regular-sized pita makes enough for one as a main dish snack or two or three as an appetizer. Make as many as you like.

Flatbread with Halloumi, Tomatoes and Mint

whole, fresh pita breads or flatbreads
halloumi cheese
handful of cherry tomatoes
olive oil
dried mint

First, remove the halloumi from the packaging and place in a small bowl. Cover with water and soak for 3-5 minutes to remove excess salt. Drain and then chop or crumble into bite-sized chunks.

Slice cherry tomatoes in half and sprinkle over pita.

Scatter halloumi chunks on to pita as well.

Drizzle with olive oil. Then sprinkle with a pinch of dried mint.

Toast under broiler or place on hot grill until the tomatoes are softened and bubbly and the cheese is golden around the edges.

Slice into quarters and enjoy!

Adapted from Nigella Lawson.

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